GENEVA, 30 July (UN Information Service) -- The Conference on Disarmament this morning opened the third and last part of its 1998 session. Member States agreed to meet in closed session next week to consult on the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee on banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
Delegations welcomed Pakistan's announcement that it will support the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee within the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.
Nuclear disarmament and banning fissile material were the focus of most of the delegates' speeches. The Representative of Brazil said nuclear weapons were no longer a source of strength or security and a commitment to their complete elimination through a phased programme was now a necessity. The Representatives of the Republic of Korea, Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands, the United States and Belgium attached highest priority to the immediate commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning production of fissile material.
The Representative of Algeria submitted a proposal under which the Conference could establish an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament and another on prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.
The nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan also continued to be a subject of concern and debate. The Representatives of the United Kingdom, Spain, Argentina and South Africa also addressed the Conference this morning.
The Conference on Disarmament resumes its plenary at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 6 August. It will meet in closed session at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 4 August, to discuss the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee on banning the production of fissile material.
CELSO LAFER (Brazil) said that on 13 July, the country's President had signed, after legislative approval, instruments of accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and of ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had been present at the signing ceremony. Brazil was consolidating a series of initiatives, internal and external, including in partnership with Argentina, which accorded all possible credentials to Brazil in the field of non-proliferation. The measures were in full keeping with the 1988 Federal Constitutional provision that nuclear energy would only be used for peaceful purposes in Brazil; it had long been felt by Brazilian society that scarce resources should be focused on economic and social development rather than on weapons of mass destruction.
Nuclear weapons possession was in fact no longer a source of strength or security, Ambassador Lafer said; a commitment to their complete elimination through a phased programme was now a necessity; a clear, unequivocal pledge to that effect was needed.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said Pakistan believed that whereas India's nuclear tests had destabilized the "existential deterrence" which had operated between the two countries for almost 20 years, Pakistan's tests served to re-establish balance and stability. The Government was sad that many friends had equated Pakistan with India in their denunciations and punitive actions. This "equal" treatment had had an unequal impact and had hurt Pakistan much more than India. Pakistan was not interested in a conventional or nuclear arms race with India. It wished to avoid war; prevent nuclear escalation; promote conventional stability; lower tensions and resolve the Kashmir dispute which was the root cause of the Indo-Pakistan problem. Pakistan was not interested in further escalation up the nuclear ladder with India.
The Ambassador of Pakistan said his country would join the United States and other members of the Conference on Disarmament in promoting a decision for the establishment, at this session, of an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices. Pakistan had consistently believed that a ban on the production of fissile material should be promoted through a universal and non-discriminatory treaty negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament and not through unilateral measures. It believed that a wide disparity in the fissile material stockpiles of India and Pakistan could erode the stability of nuclear deterrence.
In conclusion, Mr. Akram said Kashmir held the key to resolve the current security crisis in South Asia and was the fundamental issue influencing nuclear decision-making by both Pakistan and India. The process of seeking a solution would be painstaking but progress was essential to
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sustain the entire Indo-Pakistan dialogue and lower tensions. In this context, Pakistan was willing to discuss various confidence-building measures. At the same time, peace and security in South Asia could not be promoted and sustained on the basis of discrimination and double standards. Those who advocated non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament must themselves be seen to practise this. Nuclear disarmament was the issue of highest priority for the Conference on Disarmament.
KIM SAM-HOON (Republic of Korea) said his country attached highest priority to the immediate commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning production of fissile material, in accordance with the statement of the Conference's Special Coordinator and the mandate on the matter; the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) was the next logical and practical step after the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); linkage of negotiations on the CTBT with other issues was counter-productive. The Republic of Korea supported the Austrian proposal on re-establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to start negotiations on the FMCT.
Korea deeply regretted the recent nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan and strongly urged those countries to desist from further testing and to halt their nuclear-weapons development programmes; it urged them to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and CTBT without delay. The Republic of Korea favoured the proposed mandate for an Ad Hoc Committee on anti-personnel landmines, Ambassador Kim said, and had taken a series of steps to minimize the inhumane consequences of landmines. It supported the UN Register of Conventional Arms; universal participation in the register was vital, and discussion of expansion of the scope of the Register within the framework of the relevant ad hoc committee.
IAN SOUTAR (United Kingdom) said he would like to show how his Government's Strategic Defence Review reflected the country's commitment to the global elimination of nuclear weapons. A vital contribution to this goal had been made by all States that had undertaken obligations not to acquire nuclear weapons by becoming non-nuclear weapon States party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Also vital to this goal was the role of the five nuclear weapons States party to the NPT and the three non-parties to the NPT with significant unsafe guarded facilities, namely India, Israel and Pakistan. The United Kingdom would continue its efforts to persuade these three countries that it was very much in their interests to become parties to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to participate in negotiations for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. The five nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT had a key role to play in movement towards the global elimination of nuclear weapons. An enormous responsibility lay upon the shoulders of the two largest nuclear weapons States. The role of the three others was to not become large nuclear weapon States and to accept that they would need to join the larger two States in negotiations about their nuclear weapons.
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Mr. Soutar said the United Kingdom was more than fulfilling these requirements and the steps it had taken brought everyone closer to achieving the global elimination of nuclear weapons. The British Government had already made it quite clear that when satisfied with progress towards this goal, it would ensure that its remaining nuclear weapons were included in multilateral negotiations. The United Kingdom had never made any secret of the fact that it did not believe the global elimination of nuclear weapons would be achieved solely by action in the nuclear sphere. Progress towards nuclear weapons elimination would be greatly facilitated by improving political relationships between key States. Progress towards nuclear elimination would also be greatly facilitated by parallel progress in other areas like concluding a Protocol to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and universal adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention. There was also a need to think more about arrangements for controlling conventional weapons and for strengthening collective security arrangements.
RUDIGER HARTMANN (Germany) said hopes had been dashed by the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan. All member States of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) should reaffirm in word and deed their commitment to the treaty; India and Pakistan should halt nuclear-weapons development, should reiterate and confirm that they were prepared to introduce strict export controls on nuclear material and missiles; and should make irreversible their unilateral moratoria on further testing by signing the CTBT without preconditions and without delay. Negotiations by the Conference should be started rapidly on an FMCT, and Germany called on the Conference to establish during this session an Ad Hoc Committee based on the Shannon report and the mandate it contained. The process of nuclear disarmament must proceed with the ultimate goal of completely eliminating nuclear weapons.
Germany was strongly committed to strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention by means of a verification regime, Ambassador Hartmann said; it also thought the Conference should adequately address conventional weapons and had consistently supported a complete ban of anti-personnel landmines. Reactive measures involving conventional weapons should aim at effectively collecting and destroying surplus weapons in crisis areas; preventive measures should in the medium to long term scale down countries' stockpiles of small arms to a level that corresponded with their legitimate security needs. Germany supported holding an international conference on the illicit arms trade in all its aspects.
MOHAMED-SALAH DEMBRI (Algeria) said the consultations underway in the Conference on Disarmament on nuclear disarmament had brought to light elementary truths which should help organize consensus on this question were they admitted by all. Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons were linked since the former strengthened and complemented the latter and the latter allowed for the former. After conducting a lengthy assessment of political implications and security imperatives, Algeria had found it
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useful to enrich proposals already submitted to the Conference with a new proposal to further open tracks put forward and to nourish the debate. This new initiative should be understood as an action complementary to others already in the Conference. The ideas in the Algerian proposal were not very different from ones already expressed, however, their presentation and structure were new as they presented a possible synthesis and compromise.
Mr. Dembri said the Conference talked of either creating an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament or another on the production of fissile material. In truth, the Conference should be able to work on both. Algeria proposed the Conference establish an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament with the task, as a first stage, to negotiate a multilateral, universal and legally binding convention committing all States to the objective of nuclear disarmament for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The Conference should also, taking into account the Shannon report, establish an Ad Hoc Committee on prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices. In making this proposal, Algeria was aware that some would find merit in it, others would detect possibilities to improve its drafting and others would have conceptual problems with it.
Mr. Dembri said that for Algeria, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty remained the backbone for the non-proliferation regime whose concepts should in no way be challenged. The best way was to build on the basis of the regime of nuclear disarmament which had not been possible so far. It was important to make an effort to define the content of the Shannon report in order to favour the start of negotiations on a clear and unequivocal basis, taking into account all preoccupations expressed and contained in the report.
HARALD KREID (Austria) said his country was convinced that the security interests of the two States which recently had conducted tests of nuclear weapons would best be served if they proceeded to the adoption of all the main instruments of the nuclear-arms regime and joined the rest of the Conference in an FMCT negotiation. This was a propitious moment for getting such negotiations under way. The FMCT had been taken hostage by delegations desirous of achieving more far-reaching results in the area of nuclear disarmament; as far as Austria was concerned, this was an honourable if unsuccessful attempt to force the hands of reluctant nuclear-weapons States; Austria advocated the establishment of a mechanism which permitted keeping the issue of general nuclear disarmament under constant review, but it did not believe that the Conference should further postpone negotiations on a cut-off treaty.
There were many potential benefits that might result from an FMCT, Ambassador Kreid said, including the chance that the main nuclear-weapons States would commit themselves to voluntarily placing fissile materials transferred from military to civilian uses under full IAEA safeguards. The immediate task of the Conference should be to get negotiations started as
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early as possible, and Austria repeated its proposal to re-establish an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a fissile-material cut-off treaty; the time had come to take action on the proposal.
MARTINEZ MORCILLO (Spain) said the Conference on Disarmament had its rituals and one of them was the custom that the head of a delegation made a valedictorian statement when he or she were about to leave. There were exceptions to this, but a Chinese proverb said that "protocol was the smoke of friendship". Therefore, he wished to send out a strong spiral of smoke as a mark of esteem and affection to the Conference for the last time. The Conference was not just the best club in Geneva, it was much more. It was a very singular body on account of its working procedures and techniques. He recalled the days when he attended the last days of negotiating the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty when the Conference looked like a perfect machine with its mechanisms working. He hoped that the Conference could overcome the present stumbling blocks and that its splendid past would be renewed again.
Mr. Morcillo said that in the future, if it reached his ears that the Conference had started negotiations on these issues, he would not only feel a personal satisfaction but he would also be able to justify his belief in the Conference which should link both idealism and realism. He thanked the Secretariat and all others.
JOHN B. CAMPBELL (Australia) said that immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile-material cut-off treaty was among Australia's highest priorities for action in the Conference; there was strong international support for the idea; there was an agreed mandate; and the recent nuclear tests in South Asia had only added impetus. The international community was looking to the Conference for a constructive response to these challenges, and it should sent the right signal. The Conference also should avoid linkages with other issues that would only serve to delay and complicate the launching of negotiations. There was no denying that the nuclear tests in South Asia had changed the international security environment; Australia considered that India and Pakistan did not and could not have formal international status as nuclear-weapons States, despite having exploded such weapons; in addition, however, it should be noted that negotiators of an FMCT should not discriminate between States on the basis of their nuclear-weapons status; it was States' relationship to fissile material and not pre-existing nuclear-weapon status which was the appropriate source of obligations under an FMCT.
Australia urged all members of the Conference to agree to re-establishment, without further delay, of an Ad Hoc Committee on negotiating an FMCT, Ambassador CAMPBELL said.
SANCHEZ ARNAU (Argentina) said it was his honour to introduce to the
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Conference the political declaration of the MERCOSUR summit -- Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with the participation of Bolivia and Chile -- which was announced on 24 July in the presence of the heads of State of the six countries and the South African President Nelson Mandela. This declaration reflected the renewed spirit of friendship and cooperation that permeated relations between countries in the MERCOSUR region which safeguarded them from risks of an arms race. Pursuant to the declaration, the Governments of the six countries, which were convinced that peace was the main desire of the people of the region and that this formed the bases of its development, declared the region of MERCOSUR as well as Brazil and Chile free of weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Arnau said that according to the declaration, the countries agreed to, among other steps, strengthen consultation and cooperation mechanisms on matters of security and defence and to promote their progressive implementation; to cooperate in confidence-building measures and promote their implementation; to take steps to make the MERCOSUR region free of anti-personnel landmines; and to make concerted efforts in international forums to make headway to consolidate international agreements designed to obtain the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
P. GOOSEN (South Africa) said he wished to bring to the attention of the Conference South Africa's ratification of two important international instruments: the Ottawa Treaty and the Amended Protocol II and Protocol IV of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be Deemed to be Excessively injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW). Parliament had given its assent to the ratification of the two agreements and the relevant instruments of ratification were deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 26 June. It also was useful to repeat in this context that South Africa had completed on 30 October 1997 its destruction of its stockpile of anti-personnel landmines. The country would continue to work actively for other signatories to these two instruments to complete necessary legal steps called for by the treaties. Media statements connected with South Africa's ratification of the two agreements had been attached to copies of his remarks, Mr. Goosen said.
CLIVE PEARSON (New Zealand) welcomed the actions taken by the United Kingdom as outlined in its Strategic Defence Review which were steps in the right direction. He hoped that other nuclear-weapon States would seriously consider taking similar moves. New Zealand also welcomed the statement by Pakistan confirming its willingness to engage in talks on a FMCT. New Zealand, along with others in this chamber, had long regarded a FMCT as a top priority for the Conference on Disarmament to address. Negotiations on a FMCT would be a huge step forward and would significantly enhance nuclear non-proliferation. New Zealand hoped the Chairman could guide the Conference
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forward so that an early decision could be taken on forming an Ad Hoc Committee on this subject. This could be another defining moment, not only for the Conference on Disarmament but also for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
JOELLE BOURGOIS (France) said that her country and Germany had deposited the instruments of ratification of the Ottawa Convention to the United Nations Secretariat on 23 July, thus bringing to 27 the number of States which had ratified the Convention. However, entry into force required 40 ratifications. France had also submitted its instruments of ratification to the Protocol on the Prohibition or Limitation of Use of Landmines, Booby Traps and Other Devices. France hoped that the Conference on Disarmament would assume its full share of efforts to make these two treaties more effective. It supported the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee within the Conference to deal with this subject.
Ms. Bourgois said the important statements by Pakistan, Algeria and Brazil merited welcome. The Conference had taken a great step forward toward establishing an Ad Hoc Committee on the banning of the production of fissile material and the convergence of views was becoming clear. Having heard the words today by the Ambassador of Pakistan which followed the position of India, it was now possible for the Conference on Disarmament to adopt Austria's proposal on FMCT. France hoped the Conference would take this initiative and show it could make use of political developments. Negotiations on an FMCT would be long and complex which was why, if none of the members were going to hinder them, there was no time to be wasted. The existence of the convergence of views must be verified.
FRANK MAJOOR (Netherlands) said nuclear disarmament was an issue of high priority for his country and he supported the immediate start of negotiations on a FMCT in the Conference on Disarmament as a further multilateral step toward the common goal of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The Netherlands welcomed the announcement by Pakistan and hoped that this would be a first and not last step. The Netherlands hoped that Pakistan's position and the similar readiness expressed by India would allow the Conference on Disarmament to immediately establish an Ad Hoc Committee on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material.
KEITH A. HANSEN (United States) welcomed the statement from the Representative of Pakistan which would enable the Conference on Disarmament to begin negotiations on establishing an Ad Hoc Committee on banning the production of fissile material. He hoped the Conference on Disarmament would move quickly to establish such a committee based on the proposal of Austria. The United States supported the proposal for an informal meeting to be held next week to lay the groundwork for announcing this Ad Hoc Committee at the next plenary.
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ANDRE MERNIER (Belgium) welcomed the statement by the Ambassador of Pakistan which was of vital importance for the future of nuclear non-proliferation. A treaty on banning production of fissile material was necessary to perfect the nuclear non-proliferation system.
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